“I can’t with just a body”
D (Viv Albertine) and H (Liam Gillick) is a pair of contemporary artist whose domestic routine is threatened by H decision to sell the house that they’ve inhabited for over 18 years.
Heavily described as a study of marriage and intimacy, Exhibition perhaps would felt a lot sterile and colder than, say, Before Midnight which explores similar theme. Still, Exhibition is quite fascinating in its own way. Perhaps it is in fact a study of marriage and intimacy, the one about couple who were still together yet not really ‘together’. Over the years the two grew apart in the cocoon of their own home. While D seemed to find comfort and cling to the house, H seemed indifferent about it. The two spend little time together, each occupied with their own work and in their own space, despite occasionally sharing a meal on their table and share a bed at night. Their distance were acutely described by a scene where H called on a phone D to come up to their bed room when he was in the mood for sex while she was currently working on her art project. It’s absurd because he could easily walk down to her studio and woo her instead of just calling her like he’s ordering a prostitute. And later when both of them are in their room, D just lies there while H stripped her and tried to get her in the mood. A moment that show their disconnect, a relationship that seemingly distant from warm, loving, or intimate.
Set in the a modern looking house with huge windows that easily access, or rather showcase, whatever happened indoor. The house have industrial looking doors, and grey spiral staircase, the colors are grey and black and white. Looked like something from magazines which supposed to be clean and minimalistic, and in reality felt cold and uninviting. Rather than a warm home, the two even more detached by within the walls. The house itself even suggest the word exhibition as in some of the scenes Hogg opt for capturing what happened indoor from outside that felt almost voyeuristic especially since the only noise can be heard are from the bustling street outside. The house is as much a character to the film just like its human inhabitants.
There’s lack of conversations. Rather it is filled with shots that follows D & H going through their mundane daily motions and colored with random occurrences that disturbed to their routine (which i think is actually a wonderful exercise in realism). Sometimes it interspersed with scenes that would not be out of place in contemporary performance art piece but contributes to help the viewer understanding D’s psyche.
Hogg’s delivered a seemingly sterile perhaps boring or confusing or even obnoxious at first sight, but she in fact uses the negative space to communicate meaning to the viewers. Exhibition is an austere exploration of intimacy might not accessible or can be easily digested by many, but it actually explores an idea that is very relatable. It does felt more like an art film than just a contemporary indie, even more so by the lack of background music to help the viewers understood the mood. If you want to challenged yourself perhaps, like me, you’d find Exhibition is actually quite fascinating.
DIRECTOR Joanna Hogg | PRODUCER Gayle Griffiths | WRITER Joanna Hogg | CINEMATOGRAPHER Ed Rutherford | EDITOR Helle le Fevre | STUDIO BBC Films, Rooks Nest Entertainment, Wild Horses Film Company | DISTRIBUTOR Artificial Eye | COUNTRY United Kingdom | RUNNING TIME 91 minutes | RELEASE August 9, 2013 (Locarno Film Festival)
STARRING Viv Albertine, Liam Gillick, Tom Hiddleston
DID YOU KNOW? Both Viv Albertine and Liam Gillick are non actors. Albertine is a guitarist for English punk group The Slits. Gillick is a contemporary artist currently living in NYC